more details on the Hasan Akbar case
- The following article appeared on page A2 of the Monday, 24 March 2003 edition
of The Arizona Republic and is credited to Joe Biesk of the Associated Press.
MUSLIM GI HELD IN ATTACK SAYS HE FEARED PERSECUTION
Fort Campbell, Kentucky--A sergeant accused of killing a fellow serviceman
by throwing grenades into tents at a military command center in Kuwait told
his mother he feared persecution because he is a Muslim and reportedly had
recently been reprimanded for insubordination.
Sergeant Hasan Akbar of the 101st Airborne Division's 326th Engineer
Batallion was in custody, said George Heath, a civilian spokesman at Fort
Campbell. Heath said Akbar had not been charged with a crime but was the
only person being questioned in the attack that also wounded 15 soldiers
Sunday, three seriously.
Jim Lacey, a correspondant for Time magazine, told CNN that military
criminal investigators said Akbar was recently reprimanded for insubordination
and was told he would not join his unit's push into Iraq.
The Army identified the dead soldier as Captain Christopher Scott Seifert,
17, of Easton, Pennsylvania. Heath said Seifert was married. A
spokesman for Siefert's parents, Thomas and Helen, also of Easton, said the
family would not comment.
"We do want to honor Chris. We have suffered a loss in our family. We are
grieving right now," spokesman Mark Drill said.
A woman who said she is Akbar's mother, Quran Bilal, told the Tennesseean
of Nashville that she was concerned her son might have been accused because
he is a Muslim.
"He said, 'Mama, when I get over there I have the feeling they are going to
arrest me just because of the name that I have carried,'" Bilal told the
She said in a telephone interview from her Baton Rouge, Louisiana, home that
the military had not contacted her and expressed disbelief in the
accusations against her son, who she said spells his first name Hasan.
"He wouldn't try to take nobody's life," she said.
"He's not like that. He said the only thing he was going out there to do
was blow up the bridges."
The attack happened in the command center of the 101st Division's 1st Brigade
at Camp Pennsylvania early Sunday. One grenade went off in the command tent,
officials said. The tent, the tactical operations center, runs 24 hours a
day and would always be staffed by officers and enlisted personnel.
Names of the wounded were not released. A newspaper photo of the 1st
Brigade's commander, Colonel Frederick Hodges, showed him with blood on
his uniform and his arm in a sling.
Akbar was born Mark Fidel Kools. His mother said she changed his name to
Hasan Akbar after she remarried when he was a boy.
Heath said Akbar should eventually come back to Fort Campbell, though
military officials could decide to convene a court-martial in Kuwait.
He said he was not sure what penalty Akbar could face if convicted.
The three soldiers with the most significant injuries from the attack
were in serious but stable condition Sunday, Heath said.